Well the Postal Service keeps on moving forward with their grass roots success on the Sub-Pop record label. Not that I'm prone to blogging about music, but I've sort of been following this band for a while as I find them an interesting meme in studying bottom-up media since they are easily traced from their humble beginnings throughout the blogosphere and other online memepools into popular mainstream media. They definitely succeeded for not only their talent but because of an unconventional amount of word of mouth promotion. This is definitely a case of the "lengthening tail" of IP (intellectual property) economics that I've previously posted about.
According to today's NY times article they have not only sold over 400,000 albums since the release of their "Give Up" album in early 2003, but they are now Sub Pop Record's second biggest seller of all time after Nirvana's "Bleach". They've been all over in the press and the US this year touring this fall for the pro Kerry voting drive (you may have heard about it in reference to Bruce Springstein) and popping up in the oddest places, like on the TV series "The OC", the "Wicker Park" movie soundtrack, and the many times I've heard their music used as a segue for TV or radio news (though I lost track of the exact references). Now, to top it all off they have resolved their dispute with the U.S. Postal Service over the obvious trademark conflict. In short they get to keep their name in exchange for some promotion work for the the U.S. Postal Service.
Well if the Postal Service members Jimmy Tamborello, Ben Gibbard and Jenny Lewis are not really cashing in on their success some might actually consider this selling out. The whole thing is now getting blatantly and ridiculously commercialized. I typically don't have a problem with bands cashing in on their popularity if it doesn't affect their ability to make good music (i.e. Moby's music seemed to be featured in every car ad for years) so I'll try to reserve judgment until they prove that the Postal Service project was not just a flash in the pan by releasing a second album to some critical acclaim. The longer they put it off the harder it's going to be to compete with the spectacular media blitz "Give Up" has created. I sense implosion is imminent and I desperately hope they will prove me wrong. The Postal Service project did after all start as a side project from their separate previous full-time endeavors Dntel (Jimmy Tamborello), Death Cab for Cutie (Ben Gibbard) and Rilo Kelly (Jenny Lewis), which is to say they've all been around the block once or twice without cashing in, bailing out, or getting distracted. Speaking of which, Jenny Lewis is also an actress though I have no idea how that relates to The Postal Service thing.
LINK: The New York Times > Arts > Music > Postal Service Tale: Indie Rock, Snail Mail and Trademark Law
LINK: The Postal Service - Wikipedia.org